Tag Archives: lucas davenport

Another winner from John Sandford

If you are looking for a Christmas present for a reader, try “Shock Wave” by John Sandford.

I make no bones about it – I am a big John Sandford fan. His  reading his latest cop-thriller, “Shock Wave,” is outstanding.

Sandford has written about a thousand books, but his two primary series are both crime-police-mystery oriented. The Lucas Davenport “Prey” series takes place in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The main character is Lucas, a brilliant, rich, good looking, sophisticated, etc. cop. His other series revolves around state crime investigator Virgil Flowers, who works for Davenport, but investigates in the rural parts of Minnesota.

Sandford’s plots are good, but his characters and dialogue are even better. With only a few exceptions, even his “bad guys” are engaging and frequently charismatic. Virgil is definitely the kind of guy I’d like to hang out with, even though the opportunity only comes in a book.

In “Shock Wave,” someone is planting bombs in small town to prevent the construction of a new big box store there. Virgil is trying to figure out who it is.  The plot is compelling and moves along. It gets “two thumbs up.”

I won’t tell you who the guilty bomber is, but here is a hint; Sandford’s antagonists are usually engaging and frequently charming.  Figure it out for yourself.



John Sandford’s latest a winner of a summer read

John Sandford is one of my favorite authors. He has several series of cop/crime fiction going and they are all great.

I just finished the latest in his “Prey” series – Buried Prey. It’s slightly different than many of his previous novels, but very good. It is an excellent summer read.

The main character in the “Prey” series is Lucas Davenport. When the series started, nearly 20 years ago, Lucas was a homicide detective in the Minneapolis Police Department. Lucas is smart, urbane, quick-witted and rich. (Not a bad combination. I want to be Lucas when I grow up.) He got all the tough cases. At the present point in the series, Lucas is the head of the Minnesota “Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.” And again, he gets all the tough cases.

In Buried Prey, building excavators unearth the bodies of two young girls, dead for a quarter century. It is a kidnap-murder case that Lucas worked as a young cop. Much of the book is a flash-back, as Lucas recalls the details of the summer the girls disappeared. Lucas is besieged by guilt over the case. The police were quick to close the case and pinned the murders on a homeless man who was killed by the police during his arrest. Lucas knows deep in his heart that the homeless man was innocent, but being a young cop, he went along with his bosses and “caved in.”

Sandford brings out some of Lucas’s personality characteristics that remain hidden in most of his books, including self-doubt, a sense of guilt, and a near-pathological drive for revenge.

As with nearly all of Sandford’s books, Buried Prey gets a thumbs-up. Very good!

A great summer read

I just finished reading John Sandford’s Storm Prey. I have enjoyed Sandford’s books since the first one I read, Rules of Prey. I look forward to them so much, I had this on reserve at the library before it was even released. I think I was the first borrower of this particular book.

Sandford has several series of books he’s written over the past 20 years or so, but the “Prey” series is the original and the most prolific. The books are cop stories. The main character is a Minneapolis detective (later turned assistant chief, state investigator, etc), Lucas Davenport. Lucas is smart, cool and self-made rich. He drives a Porsche and solves crimes with his brain. Each book centers around some heinous crime that Lucas and his wise-cracking team of investigators attempt to solve. Nothing new there. The key to the books is the characters. I look forward to each next book, because I enjoy “hanging out” with Lucas, his team and family. .

One of Sandford’s strong points is that he develops the bad guys as well as the heroes. He allows the reader to understand the antagonists’ motivation and empathize a little. One of his more memorable and sympathetic characters was Clara Rinker, a female “hit man.”

Throughout the series, you follow the ups and downs of Davenport’s career and general life, including his bouts with depression, his romances, break-ups and marriage.

Some of are mysteries, but not all.  In Storm Prey, for instance you knew who the bad guys were from the opening pages. The issue in this story is whether the cops are going to get the bad guys before the bad guys kill Davenport’s surgeon-wife, who happened to see the bad guys as they escaped from a crime scene.  .

Sandford has a couple of other series, most recently a spin-off of the “Prey” series that focuses on one of Davenport’s state investigators, Virgil Flowers. “That f_ckin’ Flowers,” as he is known to his friends and colleagues, does not usually work the Twin Cities. While Davenport is cool in a $1,000-suit-and- $500-Italian-shoes kind of way, Virgil is cool at the other end of the style spectrum. He hass long, blond “surfer hair” and is prone to wearing jeans, cowboy boots and rock band tee-shirts. Most of the time, he tows his fishing boat behind his truck and occasionally stops to fish while working out the details of a case. The way he attracts women makes Davenport “writhe with envy” according to Davenport’s wife.

Sandford’s third series is the “Kidd Series.” His main character is an artist / high tech thief, who has a bit of the Robin Hood “rob from the rich and give to the poor” mentality in him.

If you want some fun summer reading, pick up one of Sandford’s books and give it a shot. If you like it, go back to the beginning (Rules of Prey) and work your way through the chronological series. You won’t regret it.